An open-ended job search can often present a catch-22-style conundrum: the places with the strongest job markets and highest salaries are, for the most part, the places with the highest cost of living.
For example, a fat NYC salary doesn’t look so great when you’re spending $3,000 a month to rent a crappy one bedroom apartment that you hardly ever see, since you’re always working late to earn that paycheck.
In honor of the graduation season, a new partnership between Indeed and Trulia has resulted in a study, co-authored by former Trulia Chief Economist Jeff Kolko, which outlines the best cities for new grads to work and live affordably. Some of these sweet spots are unlikely, but worth considering if you’re a new grad looking for a way to mindfully target your job search.
New grads are defined in the study as those with a bachelor’s degree, but not a higher degree, and they’re between the ages of 22 and 27.
This demographic is particularly susceptible to relocating for a new job or job search. In the past year, 31 percent of recent grads have moved to a new home (compared to just 11 percent of the general adult population), and 6.2 percent of recent grads have moved to take or search for a new job in the last year, compared to just 1.4 percent of all adults.
To determine good places for grads, the study first identified what sorts of jobs new grads are most likely to do. According to the US Census Bureau, roles in the top ten most likely jobs for new grads include actuaries, financial analysts, chemical engineers, and public relations specialists.
The study then searched for cities with plentiful job offerings in those categories, and the results weren’t exactly surprising. Coastal metro areas like New York, D.C., Boston, San Francisco, and L.A. all made the top ten, and most of those top ten appear in the top ten list for median income for recent grads, as well.
So most of the best cities for new grad job seekers are also the best cities for high new grad income.
But they’re also the cities with the highest rents. And when the study examined the cities with the highest percentage of affordable housing, they found that these primarily-Midwestern cities had a low percentage of job offerings for new grads.
So is all hope lost?
Must new grads choose between a place to live and a good job? Not exactly. There are a few sweet-spot cities that aren’t the best for affordability and/or job offerings, but are far from the worst. These golden six metro areas for new grad job seekers are:
- Seattle, Washington
- Hartford, Connecticut
- Baltimore, Maryland
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
- Detroit, Michigan
- Dayton, Ohio
So if you’re open to relocating for a new job and you’d like to also have a place to live when you get there, consider searching in one of these Goldilocks cities.